Arthritis is a joint disease that can develop in anyone or anytime. This is when joints suffer from inflammation or swelling. The swelling in joints can cause pain, stiffness, less range of motion and physical disability in the long run.

It’s essential to be aware of this disease as taking extra precautions, and subtle adjustments in your lifestyle can help prevent it from developing in your health. Like most things with health, the best way to stop the disease is to prevent it.

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Many people believe that arthritis naturally comes with age. However, it can be prevented, and with proper care, hopefully, you won’t ever have to experience this disease. As of today, there is still no cure for arthritis once it is diagnosed.

Only proper treatment can calm and manage its symptoms for people to be able to live with it. With that being said, let’s dive in more in-depth on what arthritis is, what are its symptoms, and how we can prevent it.

Symptoms of Arthritis

  • Stiffness or pain in joints, hands, ankles, back, neck, fingers, knees or wrist
  • Pain can feel sharp or moderate
  • Difficulty walking or sitting
  • Difficulty changing sleeping position at night
  • Difficulty stretching or performing regular physical tasks
  • Body fatigue and easily getting tired
  • Redness or swelling in affected areas
  • Bone outgrowth in fingers or toes
  • Muscular pain or soreness

Arthritis in The UAE

According to a 2016 study by UAE health publication ‘Gulf news’, around 1% of arthritis patients in the UAE have rheumatoid arthritis while 20% of the UAE population suffers from some kind of arthritis. Rheumatoid arthritis is a progressive autoimmune disease that causes severe pain, swelling and deformity in the joints of the fingers, wrists, feet, and ankles.

Though it is very difficult to stop genetic conditions from developing in people, Dubai-based rheumatologist Dr. Ghita Harif believes that with healthy lifestyle adjustments and proper weight management, arthritis can be well prevented.

The Different Types of Arthritis

1. Degenerative Arthritis

Osteoarthritis is the most common type of arthritis. When the cartilage that cushions the surface on the ends of bones starts to become weary, the bone will begin to rub against another bone and cause pain, stiffness, and swelling.

Over time you will lose overall strength in the body, experience pain in performing simple tasks and may even become chronic. Degenerative arthritis may be the result of excess weight, recent or previous significant injury, ageing, genetics or other health complications.

2. Inflammatory Arthritis

A healthy immune system is one of the main ways of preventing arthritis, as it prevents internal inflammation by getting rid of the infections and diseases. However, the immune system can go awry, and mistakenly attack joints with inflammation, damage internal organs, eyes and other parts of the body.

Rheumatoid arthritis and psoriatic arthritis are examples of inflammatory arthritis. Multiple studies have shown that this type of arthritis can be either or both genetics or environmental factors. Those subjected to bad air quality or who have a history of smoking are usually more likely to develop inflammatory arthritis.

In these cases, early diagnosis and immediate treatment are extremely critical. Slowing the disease and minimizing its effects on the body will help to prevent long term damage.

Doctors will most commonly do this through multiple medications. The goal is for the patient to enter remission, reduce pain, improve function and prevent further joint deterioration.

3. Metabolic Arthritis

As the body breaks down purines, uric acid is formed. Some people have higher levels of uric acid than others as they naturally produce more to the point the body cannot get rid of it quickly enough.

In these cases, people may experience sudden spikes of extreme joint pain or a gout attack. Gout can become more severe over time if uric acid levels aren’t reduced. This can lead to further health complications or even permanent disability.

4. Infectious Arthritis

This can happen if a joint becomes triggered by inflammation due to the entry of bacterium or a virus. Examples of joint inflammation triggers are food poisoning or food contamination (salmonella).

Sexually transmitted diseases such as chlamydia and gonorrhoea or blood contamination such as and hepatitis C. If this type of arthritis is treated quickly and appropriately, the infection can improve and go away over time. Otherwise, it can develop to further health complications should it be left untreated.

How to Prevent Arthritis

  • Manage your weight and eat better. Managing your weight is crucial if you have arthritis or trying to prevent it. By lowering your weight to a healthy and sustainable level, you put less pressure on bones and joints. This also helps to prevent fatigue and body aches. Eating and exercising better also fuels your body and keeps it in shape, helping prevent other diseases or health complications from affecting your body.
  • Don’t push yourself. Know when anything becomes too much. By stretching too hard or physically pushing yourself beyond your capability, you run the risk of worsening your condition or even causing injury. Knowing your limit and being able to rest and recover is essential in managing and preventing arthritis.
  • Protect sensitive joints and body parts. If you already know what your trigger points are or the specific weak points in your joints and bones, try not to put too much tension or stress on it. Practice exercises that protect your sensitive spots. Seek help performing regular physical tasks that may trigger inflammation and aggregate sensitive joints. 
  • Get better rest. By being well-rested, you give your body -including joints, muscles, and bones- time to rest and recover from the toil and physical demands of the day. This also helps to prevent fatigue by conserving energy and releasing tension in certain body parts.
  • Get regular health check-ups. Always check in with your medical practitioner. Even if you don’t feel any symptoms, it’s best to play it safe and check in with your doctor. This is also the best opportunity to spot out irregularities or other specific health conditions and concerns you may have. 

When to See a Doctor

As soon as you feel any of these symptoms in your body, speak with a medical professional immediately. The doctor may help you to prevent arthritis.

If it turns out you have been diagnosed with arthritis, your doctor will know better than anyone else how to treat it, manage it and look after it. Don’t take the risk. Speak with a medical expert now.

Head over to the Okadoc app to immediately book an appointment with your health practitioner.